Alcohol Debate

Drinking certain types of alcohol in moderation can actually have some surprising health benefits. These are all important hypotheses, the sort of speculations that assuage this drinker’s heart. (I’m no Don Draper, but I certainly enjoy my evening IPA.) Nevertheless, I worry that in the rush to reduce, to translate the unexpected longitudinal effect into the acronyms of biochemistry, we’ll miss the real import of the study.

is alcohol good for you

There are a few things that can happen when people drink a lot of alcohol over a long period of time. While it can’t kill brain cells, it can damage the dendrites, which are the branch-like ends of the brain cells. Dendrites are key for passing messages from one neuron to another, so a degradation of the dendrites can cause Addiction cognitive problems. Recent research shows that dendrite damage can be reversed with certain kinds of therapy and training. A related set of outcomes occurs because the brain’s amygdala is also suppressed. The amygdala is often known as the “fight or flight” organ and is responsible for helping us perceive danger.

Noting that even drinking at non-pathological levels above recommended moderate limits gives you a better chance of a longer life than abstaining draws louder protests still. Had Welch smoked, his obituaries would have mentioned it by way of explaining how a world-class athlete might have died prematurely of heart disease. But no one would dare suggest that quitting drinking might be responsible for his heart attack.

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Alcohol use disorder can very negatively affect your brain, heart, liver, and pancreas. The benefits noted above are outweighed when you drink more than a couple of drinks a day. There are people who abstain, but by and large we love to drink alcohol – it’s part of our social culture, part of our collective identity, and so pervasive that it can be hard to escape from even if you try. As anyone who’s attempted a Dry July can attest, booze is something that we are all connected to in myriads of ways.

is alcohol good for you

Binge drinking is defined as four or more drinks within two hours for women and five or more drinks within two hours for men. However, eating a healthy diet and being physically active have much greater health benefits and have been more extensively studied. But because Thanksgiving is coming up, a time to gorge and to guzzle, and to eat corn, that is why I’m going to give this to you. If nothing else, it helps with the rationalization process later on down the line when you’ve got your fork in your sister’s piecrust, and find yourself drinking Old Granddad out of the cat dish. Alcohol, as even a college professor could tell you, acts as a depressant when taken in, and not a stimulant. Two drinks and it leaves you feeling slightly simmered, as if you were in a broth. You are relaxed and more sociable, because the tonic is naturally anxiolytic, and things go a little bit more swimmingly.

Changes in mood and behavior, high blood pressure, stroke, alcoholic hepatitis, fatty liver disease, pancreatitis, and cancers of the mouth, esophagus, throat, Transitional living liver, and breast are all possible side effects of overconsumption of alcohol. In those cases, drinking alcohol can do much more harm than good.

Researchers from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine found that the red-wine polyphenol has the potential to reduce brain inflammation caused by stress, alleviating depression-related effects of alcohol symptoms. However, this study was conducted on lab rats, not humans, and used concentrations of resveratrol that far exceed the amount found in a day’s worth of wine.

And when your blood sugar begins to rise, additional insulin is secreted to bring your levels back to a healthy range. Your liver is the primary site for alcohol metabolism; this is why you can have liver problems from consuming too much alcohol. Alcohol is detoxified and removed from the blood through a process called oxidation.

It concluded that common recommendations regarding “moderate” drinking might be too much. In June of 2018, a study published in the journal PLOS Medicine found that among older adults, light drinking was associated with a slightly lower risk of death compared with zero consumption. On the other hand, if you’re a light to moderate drinker and you’re healthy, you can probably continue to drink alcohol as long as you do so responsibly. Moderate alcohol use has possible health benefits, but it’s not risk-free. Moderate drinkers are far more likely to exercise than people who don’t drink. On the flip side, the more you exercise, the more likely you are to drink now and then.

According to the study, 25 percent of women and 39 percent of men are drinkers. “We’re not proponents of complete abstinence. There probably is an amount of drinking that’s OK,” LoConte told NPR in June. “But from a cancer-prevention standpoint, drinking the least amount of alcohol possible would be the best strategy.” For younger people, the three leading causes of death linked to alcohol use were tuberculosis, road injuries and self-harm, according to the study. Drinking alcohol was also a leading cause of cancer for people older than 50. No amount of alcohol is safe, according to The Global Burden of Diseases study, which analyzed levels of alcohol use and its health effects in 195 countries from 1990 to 2016.

One of the main problems, he says, is that “moderate alcohol consumption” can mean different things for different people, depending on their weight, gender and family background. “A study of marathoners who drink wine every day might give you different results than a study of sedentary individuals who drink wine every is alcohol good for you day,” she says. In part, the taste of our favorite drinks affects how we think about them. Rutledge says, much like a how child reacts to being told to “eat your vegetables,” most things deemed healthy for us are often assumed to taste unpleasant. If something tastes delicious, it is often assumed to be bad for us.

Cardiovascular Health

Since carbohydrates are broken down into simple sugars in the body and absorbed into the bloodstream, drinking beer in excess can also affect your insulin levels, as mentioned earlier. When sustained over a long period of time, alcohol abuse can also worsen other health conditions such as mood disorders, osteoporosis and high blood pressure, according to the National Institute on Aging. And, of course, drinking too much can lead to falls and broken bones, which are always a concern for seniors. Although there haven’t been many studies on the effects of varying amounts of alcohol use by seniors, heavy drinking can be potentially harmful. In August of 2018, two larger studies examined the impact of alcohol. The first one, published in The Lancet, included only people who drank at least some alcohol.

is alcohol good for you

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , since energy drinks contain a high amount of caffeine, when they’re added to alcohol, they subdue the depressant effects of alcohol so drinkers feel more alert. Because they feel more alert, drinkers may assume they’re less affected by alcohol and in turn consume more alcohol. This increases their likelihood of being impaired, and their risk for serious injury and risky behavior.

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Proponents of the moderate alcohol hypothesis, on the other hand, pointed to alcohol’s anti-clotting effects and its apparent ability to raise the level of so-called good cholesterol to help explain its benefits. “It’s part of our overall commitment to reducing the harmful use of alcohol,” Ms. Hart said. A clinical trial by the National Institutes of Health — and largely paid for by the alcohol industry — will try to find out. So if you wish to enjoy alcohol at a happy hour or a tailgate party, those are the limits at which you may see those minor health benefits. Those headlines about drinking alcohol to improve your health may grab your attention, but they don’t tell the whole story.

  • And so this study will no doubt lead researchers to probe the benefits of red wine, with its antioxidants and resveratrol.
  • Whereas light or moderate alcohol consumption may be good for your heart, excessive drinking weakens the heart muscle and can prevent it from pumping blood properly.
  • In some studies, moderate red wine consumption has been linked to increased levels of high-density lipoproteins or good cholesterol, which may be helpful in preventing blood clots that can reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke.
  • So alcohol abuse can lead to serious cardiovascular conditions such as congestive heart failure.
  • Numerous studies have come out in support of moderate alcohol consumption because of its potential health benefits only to be countered by similar studies arguing that it’s actually more harmful than beneficial.
  • It will also lead people to explore the cardiovascular benefits of alcohol, since many of the perks of drinking seem to extend to people who drink beer and hard liquor.

Oxidation prevents the alcohol from accumulating and destroying cells and organs. A healthy liver oxidizes pure ethanol at the rate of about ¼ to ⅓ of an ounce per hour, which is less than 1 ounce of hard liquor. Have you ever wondered why you feel the way that you do after drinking alcohol?

Health Benefits That Have Been Linked To Drinking Alcohol In Moderation

This happens because unlike protein, carbohydrates, and fat, there is nowhere for alcohol to be stored in our body. The technique used to make the beverage will determine the alcohol content. You will see the percentage of alcohol per volume listed on the bottle, as well as the proof of the drink. The proof of a beverage is twice the alcohol content, so a drink with 12% alcohol per volume is 24 proof. Generally, a 12-ounce glass of beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine, and a 1.5-ounce shot of liquor all contain a ½ ounce of pure alcohol and are considered one drink.

is alcohol good for you

Epidemiological study after study produces consistent findings—there are now hundreds of such studies. But whenever any sort of research can be teased out to suggest drinking is bad for you, it will be put on full display to confuse the picture. The real mystery is why an intelligent man receiving the best health care advice money can buy thinks that not drinking makes it less likely he will succumb to coronary artery disease .

Alcohol And Health: Does It Matter What You Drink?

If you choose to consume alcohol, here are some tips to help avoid this problem. The sugar in our blood, also known as blood glucose, is used for growth and energy. Blood glucose comes from the foods that we eat, the breakdown of the glucose stored in our muscles , and it can also be made from other nutrients in the body. The primary hormones involved in maintaining a healthy blood glucose level are insulin and glucagon. Normally, when your blood sugar begins to drop, your body can respond by making more blood sugar or burning up stored sugar.